July 9, 2006
Christians in Politics
I picked up a book at the immense bookstore on the Doulos. It’s called “How Can a Christian Be in Politics?”, and interestingly enough, the back cover asks the converse question, “How Can a Christian not Be in Politics?”
The book starts off saying that the two topics of faith and politics seem to be a controversial issue to talk about, seeing as in recent times the separation of church and state is deemed necessary. This was in order to avoid a situation in which a singular faith dictates public policy. This seems logical especially in a country of multifaiths. However, I still find it necessary to explore the link between faith and politics, and why it is an important subject in the first place.
My fellowship at church asked me to write an article for Rhema, its bi-annual magazine. Due to lack of time, I merely adapted an entry from my blog, on Social Justice, a topic I feel strongly about. In the article, I ended by challenging the readers to truly take on the face of Christ-ians (followers of Christ, followers of the God we believe in) by actively engaging themselves in social work and affairs which they feel allows social justice to be practised around them.
The author of this new book seems to feel that politics is one such way.
The word politics comes from the root word polis, which is Greek for the city-state. A scholar is quoted to say that “Politics is the polis, or civil community, ordering its life together on the basis of the public good. And to be human is to be a participant in that kind of community.” Further, the Greeks considered anyone outside the polis to be a nonhuman and “barbarian”.
Based on this, we see that all humans are already part of the citizen-state, the polis, and are involved in the politics of their nation, like it or not. And so it is through the means of politics that anything gets done in the government – providing for public amenities, business climate for investment, support of children and the elderly, preventing crime and corruption, defending our constitutional rights and rights to worship.
All of these things are biblical in nature. Individual rights and civil liberties, popular terminologies in postmodern worldviews, are anything but new. These are derived from the original laws of nature, laws prescribed to us by our Creator.
The author sums up nicely by saying that while it is true most governments spark off images of the corrupt and embezzlement of funds, what is there for us to do? How should one respond?
If you are happy with the government, support it. If you are not happy with the government, root for change. Whichever way, it is a responsibility for a Christian to be concerned with the social welfare of your community. What is the challenge then? To advocate faithful politics.
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